South African photographer Yasser Booley highlights unusual stories, exposing the everyday life of vulnerable and disadvantaged people, engaged in a basic struggle for survival on the margins of Cape Town. Now, with the release of the new photobook South Africa at Liberty, viewers will get the chance to experience Booley’s uninhibited account of the lives of street children, factory workers, unemployed people, exhausted commuters crammed in trains and buses, and protesters during political rallies.
Booley’s work acts as a social commentary on his city and his country, both still dealing with inequality, racial tension and the legacy of the oppressive Apartheid regime. It was the struggle against this regime and the birth of the “Rainbow Nation” that informed Booley’s earliest work in 1993.
Published in October 2016, the monograph on his work is available in four languages; English, German, Dutch and Flemish.
“This book is an invitation to meet a community of individuals young and old across ethnicities who are attempting to navigate a meaningful existence for themselves in a free South Africa,” say publishers Africalia.
The book also includes three texts written by photographer Pieter Hugo, curator Ingrid Masondo and art historian Tambudzai La Verne Ndlovu.
“I have maintained contact with Yasser through all these years, watching him move from making pictures purely for himself to working with confidence for newspapers and NGOs. Throughout this transition the style and tone of his pictures hardly changed. What amazes me is that he still makes pictures for the same reason he started out. In an era when photography has become preoccupied with questioning its own veracity, it is refreshing to still find practitioners who photograph purely for the joy of looking at the world, with a truly humanistic and sympathetic eye,” reads an extract from the text of Hugo. “Yasser’s voice is an authentic one. He genuinely loves people. He loves Cape Town. He loves his community – a very, very large one! This monograph has been a long time in the making. What you see here is Yasser’s world. And it is a world filled with affection, togetherness, brotherhood, sisterhood and unity. I feel proud to be part of his world.”
Booley’s first published work was a cover story for Design Indaba in 2001. He has since gone on to photograph for major news outlets and NGOs. He has also taken part in numerous group exhibitions and in March of 2005, he co-founded a photographers collective Camissa1, consisting of 14 photographers from historically disadvantaged communities.